Pure Men for Pure Women and vice versa, what does ‘Pure’ mean, is it only virginity?

Pure Men for Pure Women and vice versa, what does ‘Pure’ mean, is it only virginity?


S/a. There is a verse that says pure men are for pure women and vice versa. What does pure mean? Does it only concern virginity? Because one may be so and at the same time he may have done other sinful actions with women. I’m lost..

Wa alykum as-salaam,

It literally pains me to hear that you’re lost, and I want to urge you to not feel that way. As long as we have our hearts open to God, and even when we don’t have our hearts open to Him, He will guide us the way and watch over us. Alhamdulilah, you are aware of God and are in the pursuit of pleasing God, which God does not need, this pursuit is for your benefit alone.

So please, don’t feel lost, and I hope that I will be able to nudge you in the right direction.

Subhanallah, when I got this question, I had just recently been going through Surah An-Nur. It is in this Surah that we get this notorious stress-inducing ayah. The ayah that you’re referring to, I’m pretty sure is [24:26]. I don’t normally like doing this, but, it’s honestly worth comparing the different translations of this ayah (since we’re not communicating in Arabic):

Muhammad Asad: “[In the nature of things,] corrupt women are for corrupt men, and corrupt men, for corrupt women–just as good women are for good men, and good men, for good women. [Since God is aware that] these are innocent of all that evil tongues may impute to them, forgiveness of sins shall be theirs, and a most excellent sustenance!”

Sahih International: “Evil words are for evil men, and evil men are [subjected] to evil words. And good words are for good men, and good men are [an object] of good words. Those [good people] are declared innocent of what the slanderers say. For them is forgiveness and noble provision.”

There are more translations, but if you were to simply approach each ayah, without context, you’d be confused as to how such divergent translations could emerge. Let’s go, very quickly, over what the context is. I say quickly, because, I will actually be going over this Surah in another post.

So people pinpoint this Surah, and talk about how its giving out harsh sentences for zinah (impermissible sexual acts) and they neglect two very important issues that it deals with: first (and the subject of my future post) how men and women share responsibility, sentencing, and standing in court (for lack of a better term); and second that while zinah features in the Surah, the real important issue is about how to establish proof and how detrimental slander can be, in a criminal sense. This makes backbiting (which is so awkward to say in English, ps) seem like child’s play.

So, it’s really the second issue I raised that comes into play with the famous ayah. This is not really about virginity. There are tafseer that unequivocally establish this causal link, about some sort of “zinah-free” purity. Saudi’s IFTA’s tafseer, for example, agrees with this view.

Even in Yusuf Ali’s tafseer, it becomes clear that what the ayah in question is really discussing is about the effect of slander upon individual’s honor. Basically, it’s like, “people will say what they wanna say, but if you’re good, you’re good, if you’re bad, you’re bad, and God knows who’s what.” I realize that was very technical and sophisticated, but I think you get the point.

If you look at ayah 23 before this one (26), again, the issue here is slander: Muhammad Asad: “[But,] verily, those who [falsely, and without repentance,] accuse chaste women who may have been unthinkingly careless but have remained true to their faith, shall be rejected [from God’s grace] in this world as well as in the life to come: and awesome suffering awaits them.”

Sahih International: “Indeed, those who [falsely] accuse chaste, unaware and believing women are cursed in this world and the Hereafter; and they will have a great punishment”

Again, the issue here is slander, not whether or not someone has sinned. This will happen, and people may make mistakes, but the point here is about how slanderous charges can destroy the society.

Virginity is a prized asset for both men and women. Many times, young men will feel pressure by their peers to have “crossed that line” as a sort of right of passage. Yes, I realize this pressure exists in various degrees for women, but, I think we can agree, that in general girls are more valued for their lack of a past and boys are (generally by each other) valued for their “track record,” if you will.

Something that young men don’t want to talk about, and something we forget to mention, are the issues that actually affect young Muslim men. Yes, it is routine for Muslim men to “mess around” while they’re young, but the ostracism that young Muslim men face for abstaining from sexual contact with females is many times worse than if he abstains from alcohol. And for those Muslim men who have succumbed to that pressure, and have engaged in those acts, it’s tough to talk about to a potential future spouse, who might have not done those things.

I don’t want to make this about who goes under more social pressure, I would agree that Muslim girls are under more of a microscope, but ignoring the emotions and concerns of men is not an adequate response to this inequitable situation. Men are notorious for being unable to share their feelings to begin with, and it’s not like Muslim men are renown for being “in touch” with their feelings. The point is, men face different sorts of pressures, and talking about is okay.

The point is, if you, or anyone, has engaged in “activities” that would still allow you to keep your virginity, than you should deal with this as you would any other sin. You should cease to engage in that activity, you should seek forgiveness from those you have wronged (if that is the case), and then you repent to God. Since you are dealing with sexual contact, I would suggest getting tested for STDs, because your future spouse has a right to know, and you should too, so that you can deal with potential issues that could emerge.

As far as judgment from a potential spouse, I truly believe honesty is the best policy. It will hurt, but I think you’ll be surprised by the response you get. The reality is that, either way, you’ll have to tell the other person about it eventually. If that is something that the other person cannot get over, I think it becomes about equitable standards. Personally, I get stories about girls who have lost their virginity, and are honest to potential spouses, who aren’t virgins themselves, but then reject these girls as a result. Why? She made the same mistake you did.

I think a good way to deal with it, not only for yourself, but in order to explain to a potential spouse, is to understand why you did those things. Was it insecurity? Did you feel pressure? Was it consensual? Did you go through a tough time and was unsure of yourself? Those are a few possibilities, but the point is that I think you should at least attempt to answer why you did that, it makes the process of repentance easier, but also, it helps you avoid the situations that led you to make those mistakes in the first place.

I’ve gotten questions about girls who got married young, divorced shortly after, and feel that because they are no longer virgins, that they do not feel worth anything. That really makes me angry, because, it ignores the example of The Prophet.

The only virgin that Prophet Muhammad married was Aisha. Khadijah was older than Muhammad. Khadijah was richer than Muhammad. Khadijah proposed to Muhammad. This is The Prophet of God. Why are people so willing to follow him in such minute details, but then ignore the woman he valued so much, the first Muslim, and the person who stood by him through everything?

It has dawned upon me, that perhaps I’ve misread you, and maybe you’re a Muslim woman who is considering a man who fooled around before. I would ask him to explain himself, and make sure that he’s ready to be with you, for the right reasons. Make sure he’s been tested, an STD could lead to complications with pregnancy, and other issues, it could even infringe upon your marital sex life, which is an important aspect of a healthy marriage.

I think the point is that, man or woman, no matter what mistakes you have made, you can bounce back. God has given you the ability to repent to Him directly. Use that. That’s all that God asks, that you repent sincerely. Do you really think that you’re the first Muslim to have made a mistake? You think Muslims, back in the day, didn’t make mistakes? They don’t need MTV, cell phones, and high school proms to make a mistake. So, be easy on yourself. Also, don’t judge others because of the mistakes they have made.

The Qur’an points to this reality:

“Hence, [even if they have been wronged by slander,] let not those of you who have been graced with [God’s] favour and ease of life ever become remiss in helping [the erring ones among] their near of kin, and the needy, and those who have forsaken the domain of evil for the sake of God, but let them pardon and forbear. [For,] do you not desire that God should forgive you your sins, seeing that God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace?” [24:22]

If your confusion is over whether you should accept someone who has made mistakes, I think you should listen to them, and be humble enough to recognize that you have made mistakes yourself, and if this is the only issue, then you must deal with your feelings about it. You’re the one who will have to live with that person.

If your confusion is whether you should continue to beat yourself up because of some mistakes you’ve made, the simple answer is stop it. Nothing will undo what you’ve done, and that’s fine, repent to God, and if it is sincere, God will accept your repentance. Everyone has sinned, that is what makes us human, and the pain of committing such a sin should be your motivation to avoid it in the future, not just a reason to beat yourself up.

People will beat up on you for free, so why do it to yourself?

I realize that this is an especially long reply, but, I wanted to touch many bases because of the potential issues involved. I’m sorry if I assumed too much, but if you have any other questions, follow up questions, or concerns, I urge you to ask. If you’d like to contact me privately, please give me a method to contact you, and I’d be more than happy to help in whatever way I can.

Insha Allah, I hope that I helped you somewhat. I beg you to not feel so lost, and to realize that God doesn’t start every Surah (except one) with Bismillah, only to not be understanding.

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